What company isn’t under pressure to optimize business processes to become more efficient? Who isn’t struggling with how to manage an increasingly eclectic and burgeoning reservoir of information assets? And what about the challenge of staying current with evolving compliance requirements when any misstep can open the door to legal issues? Not to mention other equally negative consequences.
There’s no question that document management software can help organizations address these on-going challenges. Yet because of their perceived complexity and traditionally high deployment costs, proponents of document management systems have had a hard time convincing the rest of the organization—in particular, senior management—to get on board.
There is no dearth of statistics to help build a compelling case for document management. For one thing, the costs related to storing and retrieving documents and files is growing exponentially. Changing to a digital filing cabinet set up would reduce office space allocated to filing storage by a whopping 60%, according to AIIM (the Association for Information and Image Management). Moreover, AIIM estimates that organizations could cut their server’s farm size by as much as half if each document or email attachment was stored just once.
That’s not all. Organizations waste significant amounts of time trying to track down information, sometimes with serious consequences. According to consulting company Accenture, 59% of middle managers say they miss important information on a daily basis because they cannot find it. Accenture also found that Global 3000 companies spend between 3% and 5% of their revenue managing and delivering corporate content, which translates into an investment of millions of dollars on an annual basis.
Business Case 101
However compelling, it’s going to take more than a roster of random stats to get buy-in for a document management initiative. Like any other major information technology project, there needs to be a formal analysis and business case made to justify the costs and show the potential return on investment prior to gathering requirements and evaluating document management platforms.
According to AIIM, most companies will build a business case for the technology within four specific categories: customer service, compliance and risk reduction, productivity gains, and operational cost reduction. Over the last few years, there’s been a shift away from compliance to productivity gains as the major driver for implementing the technology, according to Forrester Research. In fact, Forrester found that 56% of firms are focusing on process automation as their primary return on investment for such systems.
The first step in making the business case is assessing the organizational needs, including both the core objectives of the project, the types of content to be managed, and the critical success factors. In addition, experts suggest following these guidelines to ensure there is a compelling business case:
Consider both hard and soft returns.
There are a variety of hard cost reductions associated with a document management system, including lower data storage and paper costs, streamlined business processes due to faster access to information, and potential workforce reductions. There is also soft ROI that is a bit harder to measure, but no less important. Some examples of soft ROI include faster and better decision making and more productive employees. Be sure to include examples of both in the business case document.
Include a user outreach plan.
Typically it’s not technology that derails a document management deployment, but rather the lack of user adoption. As part of the business case, be sure to consider initiatives that clearly define the value of the project and its expected user benefits so employees will understand how the technology will improve their jobs despite potentially requiring them to change how they work.
Establish a cross-functional team.
Be sure to get input and court participation across all of the departments impacted by the document management system to ensure all bases are covered and everyone is fully on board. In addition to rallying support from an executive sponsor, it’s a good idea to establish champions among business users to showcase the benefits of the system.
With enterprise document management costs on the decline and usability on the rise, what better time to invest in the technology to tackle some of organizations’ most pressing challenges.
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